July 03, 2012
The huge Sunflower Fire in Arizona that has burned more than 18,000 acres was apparently started by some bachelor party celebrants firing an incendiary shotgun shell that ignited tinder-dry brush.
True-crime website The Smoking Gun reports that five local men celebrating one's upcoming wedding organized a shooting party in the desert and shot the flame-throwing round at a cardboard box. The group tried to stomp out the blaze and called 911 for help, but by that point the fire was too large to extinguish.
The news report identified the cartridge used as made by Fiocchi, but I suspect it was produced by one of the small custom loaders that make novelty ammo, like American Specialty Ammo.
Dragon's Breath and other flare shotshells are all good fun if used properly, but a bone-dry desert is not the place for them for reasons that should be obvious. Over a lake, sure. Over dessicated brush, not so much.
The reveler who shot the shell will appear in federal court next week to face a three-count misdemeanor complaint. It is certainly true that wildfires can start in all sorts of ways, but starting one with a gun makes all gun owners look bad. Combining guns and drunken bachelor parties, as immortalized in TV reality shows like "My Big Redneck Wedding," is a really bad idea. Keep that sort of behavior in the strip club where it belongs.